Wednesday, February 16, 2011

playing catch up

So just to play catch up about some things that Sadira and I have been up to....

Last month we went to Chicago and met up with my awesome friend Tora, and her awesome daughter Mackenzie, who just so happens to be 1 day older than huh?

We had planned the trip a few months back, having gotten ridiculously good airfare through Southwest Airlines (LOVE LOVE LOVE THEM!) at $30/per person each way.  I had an existing hotel credit for 2 nights in an Embassy Suites hotel that had to be used within a year, so we had a free hotel as well.  Even better, our hotel stay came with free breakfast for all---and I'm not talking skimpy continental breakfast, we had a full on complete breakfast buffet with made to order omelets, fresh pastries, Belgian waffles, hot foods, the WORKS.  It was banging.

I love a good deal. :)

So, of course you all ask, "why Chicago in JANUARY?"

Well, I'll tell you.  First, the catch to getting this fabulous airfare deal was it had to be booked within certain date ranges.  Second, we had previously talked about meeting up in a different city (she's in St. Louis and I'm in Baltimore, and we've both visited each other already) and neither of us had ever been to Chicago. Third, well, we're idiots. ;)

We arrived on Saturday, landing within minutes of each other.  After cabbing it to the hotel, checking in, and letting the girls run around for a bit, we decided to get some lunch, and swing through a grocery store for snacks, since our suite had a mini-fridge and microwave.  Good thing we did that, because Sadira must've been going through a growth spurt that weekend, walking around like a mini-garbage disposal, yelping "I'm HUUUUNNNNNNGGRRRYYY!!!!" every 15 minutes.

I swear to you, it was...Every. Fifteen. Minutes.

So after a short 3 block walk to Navy Pier, we spent some time checking out a snow sculpture competition and walked through the shops.  Fun day.  That evening while we were relaxing back at the hotel, Tora came across a visitor's guide and found a page advertising the SkyDeck at the Willis Tower (Sear Tower).  Basically it's a ledge that's made out of glass on three sides that protrudes off the side of the building...1,400 feet up in the air.

I think her exact words were, "look at these lunatics going on this ledge."  I asked if she would do it, and she answered with a resounding, "OH HEEEELLLL NO!"


The next day we spent the majority of the morning and afternoon at the Chicago Children's Museum.  Since Sadira and I are members of Baltimore's Port Discovery Children's Museum WITH the reciprocal membership we were able to get all four of us in FOR FREE.   I LOVE FREE!!

When we got back to the hotel I couldn't get the idea of that crazy ledge off my mind. So I tried to convince her a few more times, "Come on, Tora, go with me.  Let's check it out.  You don't HAVE to go out on the ledge if you don't want to..."

I admit, I was secretly curious if I had really conquered my fear of heights.  Now, like I've said before I've never really had fear going up on top of tall buildings, it's just when given the sensation that I'm going to FALL TO MY DEATH (ya know, like what I experienced during that crazy rappel back in September...) that I get a little, well, shall we say ANTSY.  Walking onto a piece of glass suspended 1,400 feet in the air would definitely get the old heart pumping...

But Tora would not be swayed.  "You go have fun in a glass cage hanging off the side of a building.  I'm going to the pool." And with that my powers of persuasion failed.

So Sadie and I hopped into a cab and made a beeline for the tower.  I'll admit from the ground looking up it didn't look too intimidating...perhaps its the design, since there are several levels on the bottom, so you're not looking straight up 1,400 feet. Perhaps I was overconfident.

We paid our admission (NOT free, booooo) and up the elevators we went.  The view was absolutely spectacular.  See for yourself:

As we rounded the observation deck, I could see "the ledge" up ahead.  I saw people precariously perched on this glass floor with knobby knees and shaky hands.  I started to get that queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach as we approached.

As we kept walking closer and closer, I couldn't believe the sight.  From a little distance, especially because the sun was almost setting and the glare of the edges of the windows was misleading, but it almost looked like you were stepping off the side of the building into nothing.  Standing in absolute thin air.

I started getting a serious case of the nerves.

And the next thing that happened blew my mind.

Like seriously, I couldn't believe it.

Total jaw dropper.

Wanna know? ;)

As I stood there, squirming in my shoes, Sadira walked right on out TO THE EDGE OF THE LEDGE...and pressed her little nose up against the window.  I'm talking ALL THE WAY OUT.  There was my baby, suspended 1,400 feet in the air, standing in a glass box with a look on her face all like, "Mama, this ain't no thang..."

That kid has no fear. NO FEAR. NO FEAR!!!!!

I kept telling her how brave she was, that I couldn't believe that she just went out there like that.  The other adults around me were marvelling at her, "look at her! She's so brave! Kids have no fear!" It was amazing. Of course I could NOT be shown up by my three year old, so I gingerly took a step forward.  Reminding myself that they would not have this tourist attraction if there were any REAL danger of it's genius design failing.  Reminding myself that the law of physics got my back, and this super reinforced glass would not do me wrong.  Reminding myself that in the event that the glass DOES start to shatter, it would probably crack first giving me enough time to grab my baby and use my long spider monkey legs to leap to safety.

Honest to God, that was my thought pattern.

And so we hung out on the ledge.  Made friends with other visitors, bought a lollipop and had a good old time. I got some amazing shots of the city, really beautiful, and then back to the hotel we went. 

When we got home and I told Tora how amazing the view was, her response was, "I still think you're a damn lunatic."  Love that girl. :)

The next day (our last day) things got a little scary...a major blizzard decided to make it's way into the midwest, and while it wasn't scheduled to hit Chicago until the following day, we started noticed flights were getting delayed, since the blizzard HAD started affecting other airports.  We decided to try to get out of there sooner rather than later, and moved up our flights to earlier departure times (again, for FREE! Love SWA!)  We THOUGHT we were doing the right thing; however when we got to the airport, I was able to check in with no problem, but Tora was given the horrible news that her flight back to St. Louis was CANCELLED.


After considering all of our options: flying her to her parents' house in Phoenix (too expensive), flying her to Baltimore with me (no room on the flight), she chose to be re-routed to Kansas City, with the hope that she would be able to rent a car and get home before the blizzard hit, or try to fly home the next day. 

The bad luck continued when Tora got to Kansas City to find out they would not let her rent a car, and all the hotels were booked up for the night.  She started preparing for an overnight camp-out in the Kansas City airport.

Fortunately, just in the knick of time, her luck turned positive and she was offered a hotel room by the SWA folks, AND some of her awesome co-workers volunteered to drive through the night to come pick her a flippin' blizzard!

So all's well that ends well. :)

But no more trips to Chicago in January for us. ;)


Lindsey said...

We are contemplating a trip to ChiTown this year and I guarantee you I will do the ledge thing, blog about it, and then send you the bill for getting my pants dry cleaned. :D

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